During John Thompson’s final ESPN 980 radio show last week, he repeatedly talked about loyalty, and how it was a guiding part of his life philosophy.
“When you are in [Thompson’s] inner circle, you’re in,” Al Koken said during that broadcast. “I’ve never met a more loyal person.”
That’s what I immediately thought of when I read Bram Weinstein’s John Thompson memory over the weekend.
Before Weinstein was a famous anchor on ESPN, he was a local radio reporter; his first season as the Skins beat reporter was 2000, the year of Deion and Jeff George and Bruce Smith, of Daniel Snyder criticism and and of training camp in Ashburn.
Weinstein was on-air that summer with Steve Czaban, who asked him where Sonny Jurgensen was during practice. Weinstein said he was between the two adjoining practice fields with Daniel Snyder, saying of Sonny, “That’s [Snyder’s] dawg.”
Then Redskins executives thought the kid was calling the Hall of Famer a dog, and got mad, and called ESPN 980, and told the station that Weinstein was no longer welcome at Redskins Park and needed to be taken off the beat. The station fought back, explaining the difference between “dog” and “dawg,” but Weinstein wrote that he was on “double secret probation.”
The next day, he went to the Park, scared and planning to lay low, when he saw Thompson in a golf cart and was beckoned on-board. Quoting:
The next 30 seconds changed my life. Just as Thompson was saying “Bram, don’t worry about what they said. Don’t let no [bleep bleepers]tell you how to do your job,” out came the very member of the Redskins front office who had called my station asking for me to be fired or reassigned. Thompson was apparently apprised of this — how or why he was I still don’t know. Why he even cared, I don’t know. Still, Thompson had the golf cart pull up to this person and come to a stop. He looked him in the eye and told him, “Leave Bram alone. He’s doing a great job for us and he didn’t mean [bleep] by what he said. I don’t want to hear about any more problems between you and him anymore.” I don’t know what the Redskins guy said. I don’t even remember what happened over the next ten minutes other then mumbling a thank you to Coach and going back to my spot on the field to watch practice....John Thompson allowed me to earn my stripes before I earned them myself.
Weinstein writes that he always thinks John Thompson saved his career during that episode. And while I’m pretty sure Bram would have had a fine career regardless, it demonstrates the Thompson loyalty thing pretty well.
Also, to all of you worker bees out there, don’t let no [bleep bleepers] tell you how to do your job.